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Organization is no sexy topic. But it’s essential for financial advisors. Many financial advisors forget meetings, abandon prospects and infuriate clients by not replying.

If you’re not organized, you’ll lose prospects, repel your clients and never feel the freedom you became an advisor for.

The good news is you don’t have to become obsessive and micromanage everything. But baseline organization is essential for your success.

In this episode, you’ll find out about the biggest mistakes to avoid and how to fix them so you can become more productive and enjoy more free time–without sacrificing business success.

Ready to beat your competition without spending more on advertising? Listen now!

Show highlights include:

  • What to put onto your desk for maximum productivity–and why you’ll never get anything done otherwise. (5:05)
  • The one software that helps you make more money and frees up hours every week (15:17)
  • Why email is robbing you of your productivity—and how to eliminate most of it with a few clicks. (19:52)
  • How to invest a few hours to turn yourself into a sales machine—with nothing but a software you already have. (21:22)

If you’re looking for a way to set more appointments with qualified prospects, sign up for James’ brand new webinar about how financial advisors can get more clients with email marketing.

Go to TheAdvisorCoach.com/webinar to register today.

Ready to learn even more about becoming the successful financial advisor you know you can be? Check out these resources:




Read Full Transcript

You're listening to “Financial Advisor Marketing”—the best show on the planet for financial advisors who want to get more clients, without all the stress. You're about to get the real scoop on everything from lead generation to closing the deal.
James is the founder of TheAdvisorCoach.com, where you can find an entire suite of products designed to help financial advisors grow their businesses more rapidly than ever before. Now, here is your host, James Pollard.

James: Welcome to Financial Advisor Marketing, my financial advisor marketing family. I call you my fam. I'm going to add the “-ily” this week because I love you.

Jonathan: Wow.

James: And, hopefully, you love me, too. We're one big happy family, gosh darn it.
Today we're going to talk about exactly what the freaking title says, becoming more organized, which is actually one of my strong suits. I've taken many personality tests. I've taken StrengthsFinder by Gallup. I've taken Kolbe. I’ve taken so many different ones. I consistently rank at the top organization, which is pretty cool. [01:08.3]

I take great pride in keeping my office organized and clean, and my house is nice and tidy. I actually like to straighten things up and organize while listening to audio books, so it just works out for me. I mean, why not, right? Is that something you do, Producer Jonathan?

Jonathan: Here's what I'm wondering. When you're saying all that, I'm saying, Is this guy just covering up his OCD, making it a virtue?

James: Maybe, you never know. I don't have to touch everything in a hotel room before I check out. I know some people who have to do that. I always thought that was a little weird. We're all a little OCD, at least at some level. At least that's what I believe. But I am not one of those types that has to touch everything, no, but I do keep things clean. I do clean my granite countertops every day. That's a little of that OCD that I have.

I can already feel that, with this episode, it'll probably get a small amount of downloads. It'll probably be one of the least listened to episodes because it doesn't have some sexy title like clickbait or whatever. People are going to see this and they're going to think, Become more organized? I don't need to listen to that, and then they'll just skip it. [02:16.5]

But I really wish all financial advisors would listen to this episode because I'm going to share some good ideas that can help their businesses run more smoothly, because I found that organization, even if it's in your personal life and your office, your house, whatever, it helps your business operate at a higher level, and at the bottom of it, organization is about structuring. It's about following an order. It's about making things easier to process, easier to do, and reducing the friction.

For example, I don't want to go off on a tangent on organization, but by cleaning your desk at the end of the day, you actually reduce the friction for getting things started the next day. If you get down the inbox to zero, you're reducing the friction the next day because you can start fresh. You've got a clean slate. This has worked wonders for me in my own personal life. [03:05.6]

The first step to becoming more organized is actually to declutter, and this doesn't have to be done by itself. You can declutter as you go through some of the other things I talk about, but you want to get rid of the things that you don't need, that you don't use anymore, because it helps you streamline your business.

I want to explain how I would do it. First, I would start with my desk. Just like I said, I would clear everything off the top. I would make everything look nice and clean. I would clear everything out of the drawers. I would go through everything. I would sort through all of the clutter in my desk and I would get rid of everything that I didn't need. Everything. I would just burn all the bridges. If I don't need it, it's gone. It's trash. It's shredded. And if you're using a shredder, make sure you use a micro-cut shredder. Don't use a spaghetti shredder, Jonathan.

Jonathan: I got it. I got it. The diamond cuts, right?

James: Exactly. The Russians can steal your data, Jonathan.

Jonathan: They don't want my data.

James: That’s the new thing now. [04:03.2]
Jonathan: Here's what's funny, man. You say declutter and I can't help it. The first thing I thought you were going to say was cut out the other people and the other podcasts that aren't helping you, but you went in a totally different direction.

James: Sure. I don't necessarily want people to cut out the podcast because this is just a different flavor entirely. This is just entertainment. Now, sure you can pick up a gem here and there, but primarily entertainment. So, if you're one of those types that goes to different podcasts to get an education, I don't know why you would do that, but if you're one of those types, then please continue listening to the other podcast for your education. And when you're ready for some entertainment, come here, men.

I'll leave you with this. There's a reason why Netflix makes billions and billions and billions, and Udemy and Lynda, the LinkedIn Learning platform, don't make as much. There's a reason why entertainers get paid more than teachers. You've got to realize this. And if you can incorporate entertainment into your business, more power to you.
And enough with this stream of consciousness crap. Let's get back to organization. I need to get my thoughts organized, Jonathan. [05:07.8]

Jonathan: Yes, sir.

James: Back to the desk. I personally like to keep my own desk as clean as possible. There's nothing on there except a coaster for my drink, and my coasters actually look like 12-gauge shotgun shells.

Jonathan: Neat.

James: That’s true. My mouse, which is an MX Master 2, one of the nicest … Is it mouses or mice? I don't know what the plural is if you're talking about computers.

Jonathan: Meece.

James: It's one of the nicest ones, and I've got my keyboard. That's it. I don't keep books. I don't keep papers. I don't keep any of that on my desk. It's clean. And when I used to visit financial advisors one-on-one for consulting and stuff. I don't really do that anymore. I would see them with junk all over the desk and they would talk about how they couldn't get anything done and I'm just like, No wonder I couldn't get anything done with that, because some people they view the Advisor Coach or James Pollard as, He's got this podcast and this stuff, and they assume, rightfully or wrongfully so, that I'm somehow better, more talented or whatever. I'm not. I'm actually way less talented than most of the people out there. I can barely get my own shoes on in the morning. [06:15.0]

But when you've got financial advisors who just clutter their desk, and got papers and crap everywhere, it's just like, of course, you can't get anything done. Superman couldn't get things done in this freaking office, so clear off the crap.

Another important thing you can do when it comes to organization is implement a system for your incoming papers, and this could be applied to email as well. When stuff comes in, you've got to sort it every day. You either trash it; you delegate it; you do it immediately; or you file it. And some people call the circular file the trash, and the same is true about emailed management in general.

There are systems out there that can help you do this, but I'm talking about your actual desk. Do you want to keep your desk as clean and as organized as possible. [07:00.7]

I would also take some time to clean up your computer. My God, this is a boring topic, but this is really going to help financial advisors. Now, I just did this a couple of weeks ago and this is what I did. I uninstalled any software that I no longer used. I created brand new file folders for my documents and I organized them there, and that took forever because I've got so many different files and so many different rabbit holes on my computer, different products and different projects that I'm working on, different collaborations. I just created brand new file folders. I've just organized everything there.

An area where I found this to be really beneficial is with your receipts and your bookkeeping. I've got a folder on my computer that says “Receipts” and then I've got a file for the Podcast Factory for when Jonathan bills. I've got a file for my software. I've got a file for USPS because I do a lot of mail. I've got a file for, I mean, you name it. Just different services and contractors and businesses that I use. I've got files for their receipts, so if I ever need to produce a receipt or an invoice, or anything like that, I could just use the search function where I can click through the different files, and it is organized. [08:09.9]

I will tell you once again, that was an absolute nightmare. It was a pain in the butt to do, but my life has been so much better ever since I've done that. I strongly encourage financial advisors to do the same, because they've got so many different clients and many different prospects, so many different variables of their business that depend on being on their computer. Whether it's cloud software or local storage, it doesn't matter. Being organized makes things way, way better.
Now, another thing I did was I deleted the files I no longer used or needed, so I said goodbye to all my Britney Spears and *NSYNC songs.

Jonathan: Nice.

James: Oh my goodness. Speaking of a tangent, we're going to go on it. We're going to take a little ride here on tangent, tangent land. I watched a documentary about Britney Spears and I think it was called Breaking Point, and you remember the whole shebang back in the day when she shaved her head. [09:04.2]

Jonathan: Yeah.

James: Oh, man, the paparazzi and the media were going hard on her, and I felt so bad and I was like, Leave her alone. But that documentary, if you get a chance to watch it, just Google Britney Spears Breaking Point. If you know anyone with mental health issues, if they've got problems or if they're struggling, watch that. It's going to give you some clues. It's going to help you.

But, man, Britney Spears came back harder than ever. She was on top of the world a couple of years later, so kudos to her. That shows that you should never give up. You keep believing that you are who you are. You stay true to your values. And Britney Spears came back and she said, “It's Britney, bitch,” and it sure was. It sure was Britney, bitch.

Jonathan: Love it.

James: Next, back to the computer stuff. I defragmented my hard drive and ran disk cleanup. If you've got a Mac, you don't really need to do this, but if you have a windows, yes, it can be beneficial. I know some computer nerds are going to reach out to me and be like, It's not necessary. You don't need to do that. But I will tell you personally, my computer boots up faster. It's easier to use. Stuff's easier to find. [10:10.8]

And, speaking of computers, let me give you one of my absolute favorite organization tips and that is start using a password manager. I know, Producer Jonathan, you use LastPass, correct?

Jonathan: The company uses LastPass. I personally use RoboForm.

James: Okay, but let me guess why you use LastPass for your company. Because password-sharing among contractors and employees is very easy. Am I right?

Jonathan: Yeah.

James: Yeah. That’s the same reason why I use it. Just aside from passwords, password hygiene and creating strong unique passwords, one of the reasons you would want to use a password manager, if you're someone who has employees, freelancers and contractors, is because it allows you to share the password with them, or share access, I should say, without them ever seeing the password, which means that you retain control. You can disable access at any time. [11:05.6]

I give access to my LinkedIn and email to my virtual assistant, just different accounts that she can access, but she never sees the password whatsoever, and if she decides to go rogue and just start posting some stuff that you know I wouldn't say, I'll say goodbye and just delete that from LastPass.

But you need to use a password manager for the password-managing functions itself because something like LastPass—there’s a bunch of them out there. There's Bitwarden. There’s KeePass. There’s Dashlane. There's 1Password—you pick whichever you want. It allows you to create unique passwords for all of your accounts and keep them in a secure vault. Because if you're using passwords like “1234” or -

Jonathan: “Password.”

James: - “password”—is that funny? That’s funny to you. “1234”, that’s what people use. That's one of the most common ones.

Jonathan: Wow.

Hey, financial advisors. If you're looking for a way to set more appointments with qualified prospects, I invite you to sign up for James' brand new webinar about how financial advisors can get more clients with email marketing. Go to TheAdvisorCoach.com/webinar to register today.

On this webinar, you'll discover why email marketing is able to generate upwards of 4,400% ROI for smart financial advisors, three fatal mistakes nearly all financial advisors make with their emails, and the proven three-step process for converting prospects into booked appointments using email. All you have to do is head on over to TheAdvisorCoach.com/webinar and register today.

James: If you're using those, you're putting yourself in unnecessary danger. The same is true for people who use the same password for multiple accounts, and that's scary, because if someone's able to get your password with one account, they can get into all of your other ones. If you're using one, the same password for PNC, Chase, Wells Fargo and Bank of America login, they can just go hop on over to PNC. Those darned Russians, they've got your data. [13:08.0]

Jonathan: They're watching.

James: I hope I didn't … Do I have any listeners in Russia? You would know. I don't know. I don’t think so.

Jonathan: I don't know, bro. I could check that out, though.

James: Are they even allowed to listen? I know China has got some problems. We'll see. We'll figure it out.
But there's a bunch of password managers out there. I'm not going to give any specific endorsement, but I personally use LastPass. Producer Jonathan says he uses that, but he uses the other one in his personal life. But what's really cool about these password managers, in addition to sharing with employees, in addition to making your passwords unique, stronger and securing them in a vault is—now, I don't know about all of them, but I know that LastPass premium has it—this feature called emergency access.

I want to talk about this because, I think it was three weeks ago, a financial advisor reached out to me with a story about his client, and about how the client's spouse had passed away and had a lot of different accounts, and there were a lot of problems because they couldn't access them. They couldn't figure out what to do. Things were going wrong. [14:07.8]

I know there are services out there that basically consolidate and they serve the same purpose, but the reason that LastPass, and I imagine other password managers, work really well is because let's say that something happens to you, the financial advisor—your spouse can request access to your vault, your password vault essentially, and if you don't decline within three days or seven days, however long you set it up to be, they get access.

I’ve got to tell you based on real personal experience, based on being around financial visors who have collectively tens of thousands of clients, this is a godsend, because if someone is dealing with the death of a spouse or the death of a family member, the last thing they need to do is to be hung up on the phone with different banks and different services, and have to write into Facebook and Twitter to close the social accounts. It's something that they don't need to deal with.

If they have access to the password vault, they can go right into Facebook and they can delete the account. They can go right in the Chase and they can update the information, and make whatever changes they need. It is amazing. [15:15.6]

Next, when it comes to organization, use accounting software. I know that the majority of advisors already do this. They're the numbers types. They're money types. But not everyone knows that you can use apps like Expensify or QuickBooks—you can just scan receipts—and apps like that, they will automatically assign those receipts to the correct transaction.

That is how I got so organized and that's with my receipts, and that's how I had the receipts in the first place. I've seen some people who have five different credit cards, five different bank accounts, with all types of different things happening in each area. It’s goofy.

At least those types of apps, if you have that or if you have multiple businesses, they can help you organize a little bit better, because you can link your credit cards and link your bank accounts to these apps, so you can just log in to one place and you can keep track of everything. [16:11.2]

If you've got QuickBooks Self-Employed, you can log in to QuickBooks Self-Employed and see every single transaction. You can mark it as business or personal. You can upload the receipt. Everything is there. Me, personally, I try to run a paperless business. If I get paper, I upload everything. I just scan it and upload it. Then I shred it, in that micro-cut shredder, so the Russians don’t get our data. I've got everything digitized. I've got back up.

I use an app called Tiny Scanner to scan things with my phone. There’s a bunch of those out there, too. There's Genius Scan. There's a lot of them.

I'm wondering, does Producer Jonathan have a receipts- or invoice-management system for bookkeeping that you use?

Jonathan: Bro, my books are such a mess, I’m ashamed.

James: Hey, this is why we're doing this episode. You’ve got to get yourself a good accountant who will crack the whip if you don't have your stuff in order. [17:00.0]

Jonathan: Yeah, I do. I'm working on that.

James: Yeah. QuickBooks Self-Employed is what I personally use and I imagine it would be good for you, because I know you’ve got your real estate game going strong. You've got the Podcast Factory. You can link it all together. You can see it. You log in from one place. Put the app on your phone. You scan it, and you're good to go.
Honestly, QuickBooks, if you're looking for a sponsor, reach out to your boy. We don't have any sponsors on this show, Producer Jonathan. We don't have any sponsors whatsoever.

Jonathan: Yeah, they might be afraid of getting too close to you with your crazy stories.

James: Sure. I would get a sponsor for one week and then they'd be like, Actually …

Jonathan: I can’t believe you said that. We're pulling it.

James: We rescind. The Russians are 15 percent of them.

Jonathan: Exactly.

James: So, get that to start. Get an accountant that will crack the whip. I'm actually really impressed. I've gotten all my stuff together so early. We're recording this in late January and my tax situation for 2019 is all but wrapped up right now, because of organization and because of staying on top. [18:12.4]

Jonathan: Nice.

James: I remember two years ago and the year before that, it was like April 13, and I was just putting the bow on thing and wrapping it up. It's a world of difference. And, like I said, this is not a sexy topic. I imagined this would be one of the least downloaded episodes, but, seriously, it has just done wonders for me.

When I used to do one on one consulting with financial advisors, or when I was taking on new clients, I should say, this is one of the things that I worked on. When they organized their books, it was easier for them to operate. It also means that they're not spending as much time on $10-per-hour tasks or $20-per-hour tasks, because if you just bite the bullet—or “eat the frog” is Brian Tracy would say—if you do that and just get your stuff in order, where you take a day and you go through all your books, and put the system, yeah, it's going to suck for that day, but you're going to save so much time in the long run that you're going to be able to work on $100-per-hour task and you're going to be able to work on a $1,000-per-hour task. [19:09.3]

Then, after that, what I would do—and I don't want to keep this episode going for much longer—you want to team your email inbox. Email is a beast and not that many people have mastered that beast. They haven't conquered that beast. It just kills me when I see people's phones or laptops and they've got 700 unread messages or whatever. Maybe I do have some form of OCD.

Jonathan: [crosstalk 19:32.5], yes, sir

James: Yeah, it gives me anxiety, I will admit. About two years ago, I was one of those people who struggled with this. I'm just giving you my insight, my true story here. I would get about 200 to 300 emails per day, and that number is kind of misleading because I was subscribed to all these different services. It's not like 200 or 300 financial advisors who were emailing me every single day. That's not what was happening. It was promotions. It was email lists. It was all this stuff, and just 200 to 300 emails. [20:06.7]

So, I just started mass unsubscribing from everything, and there are services out there, like Unroll.Me, which can do this for you, but you've got to give them your personal data. When you use a service, if the service is free, you usually are the product. I would just do it manually. I would go into your email inbox. I would type “unsubscribe” in that search bar and you'll see a list of everything that's an email subscription, and you can just go ahead and get rid of it.

Make sure you go through your email inbox, unsubscribe different things. You can do that. I know that Outlook has some limitations here. It's just one of the best tips to help you get more organized. It makes me so sad. It gives me all that anxiety when I see these financial advisors have all of these emails.

Now, another tip—the final one, and we'll wrap up this podcast episode—about getting organized is to start creating systems. This is beyond the scope of one episode, right? And you want to really think about this, and I know I talk about systems a little bit in other episodes. [21:18.7]

You can integrate a process with your CRM that will remind you to do certain things with prospects in order to convert them into clients. For example, you can set it up so that at, let’s say, Day 3 after a prospect has entered your CRM, you can send a handwritten note. There'll be a little reminder, Hey, send a handwritten note to John Smith. You do it.

You can even use the service like Handwrytten. That's a service that lets you send out notes from your computer. It only costs a few bucks. You can get it, sending that out for $3 or $5, or whatever. Most CRMs will let you set this up automatically. Now, you can't automatically send out the handwritten note, but the reminder itself is automatic, and you start to streamline your business that way. [22:06.6]

That's just one example of one system that you can set up to make your business more organized. Before you leave for the day, you log into your CRM and you say, I’ve got to do this for John Smith, got to do this for Mary Johnson, got to do this for Joe Brown. You do it. It's just no fault. You don't take it home with you. You don't think about it. You don't stress out about it. And it is done.
And I just realized, I got a message from Producer Jonathan and he has … you want me to …?

Jonathan: That’s why I was laughing.

James: Do you want me to reveal it to your audience?

Jonathan: I want you to get your OCD on with that, yeah, of course.

James: Thirteen thousand unread messages for Producer Jonathan and Producer Jonathan's inbox. Amazing. Why even exist? What are you doing with your life?
Jonathan: I didn’t still have time.

James: I have never … I think it's been, yeah, right about two years when I got serious about organization stuff, right about two years. I have never ever, ever gone above 100 - [23:07.8]

Jonathan: Wow.

James: - in two years, and that's only because I was on vacation—and, yes, I still check my email on vacation. You hate me if you want.

Speaking to email, as you probably already know, one of my favorite marketing systems is the email marketing system, because you could set up an autoresponder inside of something like MailChimp or ConvertKit, and that email autoresponder will follow up with your prospects automatically, or your leads automatically, I should say. If you include a link to your online calendar in those emails, as you should, then only the interested prospects will schedule appointments with you, which is win-win.
If you want to learn more about this, go to TheAdvisorCoach.com/webinar.

I want to recap some of my favorite ways for financial advisors to become more organized.
- First, declutter everything. Clean out your desk. Clean out your office. Tidy everything up.
- Then make sure you're using a password manager. That is a must. [24:03.2]
- Also, make sure you're using a software or an easier way to keep your accounting, your billing and all that organized.
- Scan those receipts. Keep those organized, too. Don't pay more taxes than you have to. You can't take the deduction if you don't have the receipt. You want to be audit-proof.
- Then, finally, tame that wild beast—and this advice goes for some more than others—that is your email inbox.
So that is a wrap for this week, Producer Jonathan.

Jonathan: That's only if it bothers you. But, anyways, what's coming up next time?

James: Next time will be a very controversial episode. It will be a little bit of talk about how buying leads is like burning money, and this is not going to be a popular episode. I'm probably going to get a lot of hate mail for this, but I would rather tell financial advisors the truth about buying leads.

Jonathan: Wow. I can't wait.
That is another Financial Advisor Marketing. We will be back in your ear buds next time. Thank you for tuning in. [25:03.2]

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